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Open Access and the challenge of quality assurance EFC Research Forum - Stakeholders' Conference, Barcelona, 9 th – 10 th Feb 2012 Robert Kiley, Wellcome.

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Presentation on theme: "Open Access and the challenge of quality assurance EFC Research Forum - Stakeholders' Conference, Barcelona, 9 th – 10 th Feb 2012 Robert Kiley, Wellcome."— Presentation transcript:

1 Open Access and the challenge of quality assurance EFC Research Forum - Stakeholders' Conference, Barcelona, 9 th – 10 th Feb 2012 Robert Kiley, Wellcome Trust

2 Agenda About Trust and OA policy Focus on the issue of quality assurance (QA) in scientific publishing Both Open Access (OA) and Toll Access (TA) Consider key elements of the QA Peer review Sponsorship Plagiarism Discuss the “fairness” of the OA publishing model

3 The Wellcome Trust The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. Independent charity; UK’s largest non-governmental source of funds for biomedical research Spends approx. £600 million p.a. in the UK & internationally More information at

4 OA at the Wellcome Trust: policy All research papers – funded in whole or in part by the Wellcome Trust – must be made freely accessible from the PubMed Central and UKPMC repositories as soon as possible, and in any event within six months of the journal publisher’s official date of final publication

5 Why did the Trust develop an OA policy? “ Access denied” – trigger event Primary aim: to maximise return on our investment in line with Trust’s mission encourage others to build on the research we have funded funding the research is a job only part done – a fundamental part of funders’ missions is to ensure the widest possible dissemination and unrestricted access to that research Secondary aim: to better understand the portfolio of the Trust’s research outputs

6 The importance of quality Publishing decisions based on prestige, as measured by: Reputation Impact Factor If publishers cut corners they run the risk reducing the integrity, reliability and trust in their product….which will turn authors away

7 OA and the challenge of QA QA is a challenge for all journals, regardless of access model Danger of “predatory OA publishers” will seek to exploit the author-pays model of open-access for their own profit Beall’s list of predatory publishers available at: Poynder also highlights a number of publishers who have published work of questionable quality J of Earth Science and Climatic Change “global warming is the consequence of an “infection” on the European continent” [ But QA issues apply to TA as well….

8 Retraction data: evidence Challenge of quality assurance applies to all research – toll access and OA Retraction data from PubMed (2006 – 2011) JournalRetractionsTotal no. research articles % Cell Nature Science Blood PLoS One PLoS Medicine PLoS Pathogens

9 Fake article in Science Controversy at The Lancet

10 QA Issue 1: – Peer review Early perceptions that OA = little or no peer review no longer prevalent OASPA Code of Conduct OA publishers more likely to have some form of open peer review BMJ, BMJ Open, BMC Medicine PLoS One lists the Academic Editor for each paper it publishes

11 QA issue 2: research sponsored by Pharmas Competing interest that arises through the publication of research sponsored by pharmas “medical journals are an extension of the marketing arms of the pharmaceutical industry” [Richard Smith] “journals have devolved into information laundering operations for the pharmaceutical industry” [Richard Horton] Again, this transcends business models …but OA can help solve the problem because publisher cannot retain exclusive rights to reprint revenue PLoS Medicine does not accept drug or medical device advertising OA publisher leading the way in terms of policy development with regard to publisher integrity

12 And of course… The infamous example from Elsevier

13 QA issue 3: other matters Plagiarism & figure manipulation are growing problems See: Nature Volume: 481, Pages: 21–23 (05 January 2012) Again, problems which are independent of models ….but OA, with more eyes reading these papers, may help to mitigate these problems Articles assigned to open access were associated with 89% more full text downloads and 23% more unique visitors [Davis, BMJ, 2008]

14 eLife Scientists at the heart of the publication process Rapid, transparent, scientifically-based editorial decisions Clear guidance to authors Reviewers comments published Open access Innovative features in way articles are presented Supported by three research funders

15 Is OA “fair”? OA publishing typically relies on the “author pays” model Is this model “fair”?

16 Ensuring fairness: how to meet OA publication costs Most research funders (in the life sciences) provide funding to cover OA costs e.g NIH-researchers have had articles published in PLoS One SOAP study showed that in 83% of cases, OA costs were met by funder/institution Growing number of institutions have set up institutional funds to cover OA costs Subscription “windfall” Heading for Open Road: if, on average, APC’s less than £2k, overall the UK would save money OA waivers

17 WT spend on OA publishing Note: 2011/12 figure will be around £4m

18 Author–pays costs: extrapolated total costs for Wellcome Trust Average cost per paper (excl. VAT)$2351 Total number of papers attributed to Trust in typical year5000 Total projected cost to Trust (5000 x $2351)$11.8m Trust research spend in (£600m)$950m % spend on OA costs as ratio of total research spend1.24% Note: These figures assumes all journals offer an OA option, that this option is used by the author, and Wellcome picks up 100% of costs, even when other funders support the research.

19 Conclusion Quality Assurance (QA) is a challenge for all journals, regardless of access model OA has potential to help to improve the quality of published research Transparent peer review No exclusive right to reprint revenue More readers to counter plagiarism and image manipulation Publishing costs have to be met – and funding bodies should develop clear, unambiguous guidance on how OA costs can be met


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